THE AFTERMATH

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DESTRUCTION

Asaph is another writer of psalms.  David has just related the history of Israel to his people and they will go on to ignore all of his warnings.  Asaph comes upon the destruction of Israel and this is his lament.  All the nations of today’s world have heard these histories and the warnings they present.  Are we prepared to witness this scene?

(A Psalm of Asaph.)  O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps.  The dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowls of the heaven, the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth.  Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem; and there was none to bury them.  We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us.  How long, LORD? wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire?  Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name.  Psalm 79:1-6

Asaph reports to God; the enemies of God have invaded his temple.  The temple and the city are defiled and the army of Israel is feeding the buzzards as the bodies are in heaps.   Too many bodies to bury have left Jerusalem a subject of scorn and derision.  Asaph despairs and wonders how long God will be turned away from Israel.  He asks God to redirect his wrath against his enemies instead of his own in Jerusalem.

For they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his dwelling place. O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low.  Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name’s sake.  Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is their God? let him be known among the heathen in our sight by the revenging of the blood of thy servants which is shed.  Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee; according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die;  And render unto our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom their reproach, wherewith they have reproached thee, O Lord.  So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations.  Psalm 79:7-13

Asaph reports the destruction of Israel and their home.  He asks God to forgive their sins and to again show them mercy.  From their low place Asaph asks God to remove their sins and save them if only to reaffirm his own good name.  He asks God why the heathen should disbelieve the God if Israel.  He challenges God to avenge the deaths of the soldiers of Israel by destroying their enemies now.  Asaph asks God to remember the prisoners of war, and to save those sentenced to death.  He promises that Israel will always praise God if he adds seven times the misery of Israel to those who produced that misery.

(To the chief Musician upon Shoshannimeduth, A Psalm of Asaph.)

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth.  Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh stir up thy strength, and come and save us. Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.  O LORD God of hosts, how long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people?  Thou feedest them with the bread of tears; and givest them tears to drink in great measure.  Psalm 80: 1-5

Asaph is aware of the trouble of Israel, and he is also aware of the hope of Israel.  He turns to the God of Israel for help.  The children of Abraham have been defeated and Asaph longs for the comfort of their God.

Thou makest us a strife unto our neighbours: and our enemies laugh among themselves.  Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.  Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it.  Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land.  The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars.  Psalm 80:6-10

Israel is weak against neighbors and they are held in derision by all.  As God led them out of Egypt he can again deliver them.  God had made them as a vine that grows and prospers in the earth.

She sent out her boughs unto the sea, and her branches unto the river.  Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her?  The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it.  Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine;  And the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted, and the branch that thou madest strong for thyself.  Psalm 80:11-15

When the vine of Israel had grown rich God had removed the protection that preserved the fruit of her vines.  Without the hedge the vines were vulnerable to the wild animals.  As God made the vine Asaph is inviting him to visit the vine of Israel again.

It is burned with fire, it is cut down: they perish at the rebuke of thy countenance.  Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself.  So will not we go back from thee: quicken us, and we will call upon thy name.  Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.  Psalm 80:16-19

This vine of Israel is destroyed as if by fire, which is from the rebuke of God.  Is Asaph asking God to raise up a right hand man, a son of man who God made for himself?  Is this another call for Messiah as we heard in David’s psalms?  He is asking God to help the people to stay close to God as they call on his name.  Asaph is confident that asking God for his salvation is their key to life.  Like David, I believe that Asaph heard some revelation from God about their future king and hope as he turned to worship and honoring God.

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HERITAGE

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REFRESHER COURSE

David could praise God when he was alone or in a small company.  On this occasion he is prepared to give the evidence of God to a larger audience.  He speaks to his people and relates the greatness and glory of God to them.  In this praise he fulfills the mandate to honor God before the generations.  The gathering may be less intimate but the participation of God is assured.

Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth.  I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:  Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.  We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.  For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children:  Psalm 78: 1-5

Israel, I will tell the old parables of our elders and we will teach the children of Israel.  Now in the 21st century we can teach two covenants and witness the unfolding of an eternal one.  We know how to have a relationship with God, not just a bondage in law.

That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children:  That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments:  And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God.  The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle.  They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law; And forgat his works, and his wonders that he had shewed them.  Psalm 78: 6-11

David passed an education system for eternal life that can be passed to our grandchildren.  They may not be as stubborn as we were, they may take these lessons to heart, and to live by.  They need not follow the world into darkness, by ignoring his word and his wonders.

Marvellous things did he in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.  He divided the sea, and caused them to pass through; and he made the waters to stand as an heap.  In the daytime also he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a light of fire.  He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths. Psalm 78: 12-15

God did amazing miraculous things in the sight of the children of Israel in Egypt.  He parted the sea for them and marked their path with fire and smoke as they travelled.  He gave them living water from the rock of ages.

He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.  And they sinned yet more against him by provoking the most High in the wilderness.  And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust.  Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?  Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?  Psalm 78:16-20

David reminds Israel that their fathers could forget those miracles in a hurry.  The Israel of Moses was rebellious and insulting towards God.  They acknowledged God’s miracles and then questioned his ability to do more.  They challenged him to give them meat to eat.

Therefore the LORD heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel;  Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation:  Though he had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven,  And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven.  Man did eat angels’ food: he sent them meat to the full.  Psalm 78:21-25

When God hears this insult he gave them what they wanted, but he was angry in the process.  The food of angels had not satisfied them so he knew they would continue to sin.

He caused an east wind to blow in the heaven: and by his power he brought in the south wind.  He rained flesh also upon them as dust, and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea:  And he let it fall in the midst of their camp, round about their habitations.  So they did eat, and were well filled: for he gave them their own desire;  They were not estranged from their lust. But while their meat was yet in their mouths, The wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel.   Psalm 78:26-31

God gathered the birds like a blizzard of feathers and flesh, but the people continued in sin.  While they were still eating God slew the fattest of them and the great men of them.  It would not change them.

For all this they sinned still, and believed not for his wondrous works.  Therefore their days did he consume in vanity, and their years in trouble.  When he slew them, then they sought him: and they returned and enquired early after God.  And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer.  Psalm 78:32-35

David continues to tell Israel of their father’s sins.  When God punished them and slew them they remembered their faith for a season.

Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues.  For their heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his covenant.  But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath.  For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.  How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert!  Psalm 78:36-40

Now Israel was being religious in words but not in their hearts.  They were sinning but God refrained from slaying more of them.  If we did not have grace we too would be in failure mode.  We can tempt God and then remember to repent each day.  That generation did not have the final sacrifice of the Lamb of God in their day.

Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.  They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy.  How he had wrought his signs in Egypt, and his wonders in the field of Zoan.  And had turned their rivers into blood; and their floods, that they could not drink.  He sent divers sorts of flies among them, which devoured them; and frogs, which destroyed them.  Psalm 78:41-45

This generation had been given the perfect law and all the powerful signs of God’s miracles.  They witnessed the punishment of Egypt and still turned back to the sins of Egypt.  God did not slack off in his demonstration against Egypt either.

He gave also their increase unto the caterpiller, and their labour unto the locust.  He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycomore trees with frost.  He gave up their cattle also to the hail, and their flocks to hot thunderbolts.  He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them.  He made a way to his anger; he spared not their soul from death, but gave their life over to the pestilence;  Psalm 78:46-50

Here in the western United States weather is a real influence on prosperity.  Nebraska and South Dakota lost herds of cattle to an early blizzard, and we watch the reservoirs for snow and rain that fills them for the summer crops.  Late snows and frosts have people scrambling to cover their tomatoes.  God turned everything against the Egyptians and Israel witnessed their despair and destruction.  But he wasn’t finished yet.

And smote all the firstborn in Egypt; the chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham:  But made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.  And he led them on safely, so that they feared not: but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.  And he brought them to the border of his sanctuary, even to this mountain, which his right hand had purchased.  He cast out the heathen also before them, and divided them an inheritance by line, and made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents.  Psalm 78:51-55

God slew the oldest sons of Egypt and mentions their linage from Ham.  Ham was cursed for viewing his father’s nakedness, and that curse seems to carry through the ages.  The children of Abraham were protected and guided to safety.  When they faced the Canaanites, who were also of Ham, God drove those out of the land before them too.  The world thinks little of nakedness, but it seems Go has his own opinions.  Israel moved from their homes in Egypt to the portable city of tents.

Yet they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his testimonies:  But turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers: they were turned aside like a deceitful bow.  For they provoked him to anger with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven images.  When God heard this, he was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel:  So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed among men;  And delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy’s hand.   Psalm 78:56-61

Has Israel witnessed enough power to motivate a change of their bad attitudes?  No, but then I too ignored some powerful warnings before responding to God.  It takes only a brief boredom to provoke us to try the next new temptation.  When God chose the family of his perfect man Abraham he was not willing to witness a teen age rebellion.  Their eastern religions and statues were not part of God’s law and he hated their bad choices.  God withdrew from their hose of worship and removed his safety from them.  The enemies of Israel gained power over them.

He gave his people over also unto the sword; and was wroth with his inheritance.  The fire consumed their young men; and their maidens were not given to marriage.  Their priests fell by the sword; and their widows made no lamentation.  Then the LORD awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine.  Psalm 78:62-65

The fortunes of war turned against Israel, and they tasted the wrath of God.  Warriors fell and young women had no potential husbands.  Even the priests were slain until God decided to return to Israel.

And he smote his enemies in the hinder parts: he put them to a perpetual reproach.  Moreover he refused the tabernacle of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim:68 But chose the tribe of Judah, the mount Zion which he loved.  And he built his sanctuary like high palaces, like the earth which he hath established for ever.  He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds:  From following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance.  So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.  Psalm 78:66-72

God performed the work that gave victory back to Israel.  God put the enemies of Israel in retreat but he also made changes in the camp of Israel.  The tribe of Ephraim, the son of Joseph, was rejected from the Tabernacle service in favor of the Temple in Judah.  David and Jerusalem were over Israel and he cared for them as the shepherd he was.

I have watched great churches rise and fall into temptation for many years now.  Some are repentant and are restored to favor.  Others are passed over for promotion and are forgotten forever.  No matter how many gifts a church has it must remember that it needs the Captain of the Host to win our battles.

Balance is found in fellowship with Father, Son, and Holy Ghost:  Prayer, Bible Study, and Christian Fellowship.

BARING ARMS

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IMG_1566DARK LIGHTS 

The bible carries messages in undertones reserved for the spiritually aware.  David sought God in praise and worship and discovered the mind of Christ.  These Psalms are celebrations of his relationship with the messiah who would not appear to the world for centuries to come.  For the righteous the evidence of God is all around us.  Kings and servants all bow before him, but the wicked should not boast against him.  God can speak for himself when he warns them not to boast of themselves.

Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare.  When I shall receive the congregation I will judge uprightly.  The earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved: I bear up the pillars of it. Selah.  I said unto the fools, Deal not foolishly: and to the wicked, Lift not up the horn:  Lift not up your horn on high: speak not with a stiff neck.  Psalm 75:1-5

David gives thanks to God by declaring his works to our lost world.  God’s works declare that his name is near; David is again describing his king, a messiah, by outlining his coming greatness.  David is again speaking for messiah as he offers to judge the congregation uprightly.  Who else could bear up the pillars of the earth?  If he tells the unrighteous not to toot their own horn, to be humble, he speaks with authority from above.  God reveals the messiah by painting everything about him and leaving an empty outline of the coming savior.  He is proving God in the way astronomers prove dark matter.  There is an obvious void, a place for messiah in David’s Psalms.

For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south.  But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.  For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them.  But I will declare for ever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.  All the horns of the wicked also will I cut off; but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted.  Psalm 75:6-10

David points to God as the one who gives glory, not our own good works.  We have no goodness to earn promotion so God delivers prosperity and punishment by his own strength.  David plans only to lift the name of God for the world to hear.  He has faith to trust God and wait for his judgment.

In Judah is God known: his name is great in Israel.  In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion.  There brake he the arrows of the bow, the shield, and the sword, and the battle. Selah.  Thou art more glorious and excellent than the mountains of prey.  The stouthearted are spoiled, they have slept their sleep: and none of the men of might have found their hands.  At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and horse are cast into a dead sleep.  Psalm 76: 1-6

In this age of a new covenant Israel is living in the evidence of God.  The new nation has survived impossible odds in becoming a nation again and surviving their wars.  The powerful opposition of the Nazis and wealthy oil nations has not overthrown the people of God’s promises.

Thou, even thou, art to be feared: and who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry?  Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from heaven; the earth feared, and was still,  When God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth. Selah.  Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.  Vow, and pay unto the LORD your God: let all that be round about him bring presents unto him that ought to be feared.  He shall cut off the spirit of princes: he is terrible to the kings of the earth.  Psalm 76: 7-12

David speaks to God as the judge of mankind.  He expects mankind to be angry, to curse God in this time of hardship.  But the fact of this anger is evidence of God and some will recognize God and others will be prevented from their evil ways.  He who has enough sense to fear God will be honored by him, and no ruler will be able to oppose him.

I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me.  In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted.  I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.  Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak.  Psalm 77: 1-4

David calls out to God in his day of trouble and he hopes to be comforted.  He had to remember God first, as we tend to forget during our busy times.  He is troubled that he knows God and had not called out before this.  God is keeping him awake at nights and David is troubled.  I share these feelings when I put off doing these studies myself.  This is the best way for me to learn, and the greatest reward to be able to share discoveries.  I should be troubled when I neglect the source of our peace.

I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.  I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.  Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more?  Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore?  Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah.  And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High.  Psalm 77: 5-10

David remembers the close relationship he had with God in earlier times.  He remembers the songs, even like this psalm, that comforted his nights.  Aren’t the old worship songs a great source of comfort to we who remember the fruit of those old hymnals?  David wonders if God has forsaken him when that relationship has not been kept close.  David acknowledges that this is his failure, but he will remember his way.

I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old.  I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.  Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?  Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people.  Thou hast with thine arm redeemed thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah.  Psalm 77: 11-15

David purposes to remember the way and to follow the instructions of God.  The Lord’s way is a sanctuary, and we have his word from which to learn his ways.  We also have the wonders, the creation, and the miracles the people have witnessed.  David Is reassured that God has delivered Israel.  The arm of God brings deliverance.

The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee; they were afraid: the depths also were troubled.  The clouds poured out water: the skies sent out a sound: thine arrows also went abroad.  The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook.  Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.  Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.  Psalm 77: 16-20

David and the people of Israel witnessed and testified about God’s power on the waters and winds.  They also know that this powerful God was their leader who delivered them to safety.

But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:  That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?  Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again,  He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.  John 12:37-40

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